COVID-19

Benjamin Purper / KVCR

Riverside County has expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older, and the Riverside University Health System celebrated this milestone with a vaccination event at their medical center in Moreno Valley today.

About 1,100 people are expected to come through the Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley today, Apr 6, to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

There are balloons, photo booths, and signs that say “pandemic finish line.”

Heather Jackson, Senior Public Information Specialist with RUHS, says it's a day to celebrate.

Lisa Ferdinando/OFFICE OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

San Bernardino made the move to open up COVID-19 vaccinations immediately to people age 16 and older who live and work in the county Tuesday. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports on this and other recovery news.

Nine days before the state guidance to do so, Board of Supervisors Chair Curt Hagman said it is time to fully expand vaccine eligibility. The county is currently receiving 60,000 doses of vaccine per week and is expecting that number to continue to increase weekly by 10,000.

San Bernardino County’s public health director, Corwin Porter, officially stepped down to start his retirement at Tuesday's county board of supervisors meeting. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports on this and more from the latest county board of supervisors meeting.

Porter said after serving the county for 33 years in various roles, he will now be spending alot of time with eight grandchildren.

Monday through Thursday at lunchtime, KVCR News has your daily news rundown. Stories highlighted today include:

1) Disneyland has set a reopening date.

2) A cache of fireworks exploded in Ontario Tuesday afternoon, and authorities have identified two missing people. 

commons.wikimedia.org

One year into the pandemic and the changes to how Americans work have not all been fair or equal. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson took a look at the Inland Empire’s biggest sector, logistics, and found the pandemic has raised the stakes for changing the future of warehouse jobs.

Joey Alvarado of Hesperia, a 42-year-old husband with two kids, makes $29 an hour at a local Stater Bros. warehouse.

Facebook

Californians who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have a new way to find out where they can get their shots. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on a new tool from Facebook.

Available in 71 languages, the vaccine finder tool, built in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, helps people find vaccination sites close to where they live.

The first known California case of the Brazilian strain of the coronavirus has been found in San Bernardino County. 

According to San Bernardino County health officials, a San Bernardino man in his 40s is the first person in the state confirmed to have the P.1 variant.

The man was tested on March 2 and was confirmed to have the variant on March 13.

According to the county, contact tracers have been communicating with the man, who has been self-isolating at home.

County officials are investigating how he was exposed to the variant.

house.gov/media

The House of Representatives passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package today, sending the legislation to the president’s desk for his signature. Now that it’s passed both chambers of Congress, President Biden is expected to sign it on Friday, meaning relief payments could hit Inland Empire residents’ bank accounts in the next few weeks. 

Pixy

According to the latest state metrics, San Bernardino County is one week away from reopening more indoor businesses on March 17.

The county’s 6.7% adjusted case rate, 3.2% positivity rate and 4% health equity metric, or the positivity rate in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, have qualified it to advance to the red tier of the state’s re-opening blueprint. Barring any dramatic changes over the next week, businesses like dance studios, gyms, fitness centers and movie theaters, will be able to reopen with modifications.

UC DAVIS

Some elementary school students began a return to classrooms Tuesday as the Riverside Unified School District started to reopen schools.

To start, students will be in the classroom one day a week, but this hybrid in-person and virtual learning approach could advance to a twice a week as pandemic conditions improve.

Inland News Today reports, that continued improvement means middle and high school students may be able to return to in-person instruction as early as March 29.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has arrived in the Inland Empire, which means the new vaccine will be available at both Riverside and San Bernardino County vaccination sites later this week.

Riverside University Health System’s Dr. Geoffrey Leung told his board of supervisors this influx of new vaccine supply means all appointments for county run vaccination sites are now open to both first and second dose appointments. Up until now most sites in Riverside County were limited to first dose appointments.

City of Riverside/TWITTER

The city of Riverside is asking residents to keep getting tested for COVID-19. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports testing is central to re-opening businesses, schools and the economy.

Riverside County has shown some encouraging improvements in positivity rates in recent weeks, but the other metrics the state looks at to determine what re-opening tier a county is qualified for are still preventing the region from advancing to the less restrictive red tier in the state’s re-opening blueprint.

Listos California

A new project from Listos California and the Inland Empire Community Foundation seeks to keep Filipino Americans informed about resources available to them around the coronavirus vaccine, natural disasters and more. 

It’s called the “Social Bridging Project,” and it uses voter engagement technology to reach vulnerable people by phone and connect them with resources.

San Bernardino County could advance into the red tier of the state's re-opening blueprint as soon as March 22. Director of Public Health Corwin Porter said, that while the county is rapidly approaching a total of 300,00 coronavirus cases, infection rates are slowing.

“Some of the key things that will change is that retail will be expanded, we will see restaurants being able to allow indoor dining [and] we’ll see gyms for the first time, in seems like foreve, have some capacity to open inside with modifications," said Porter.

Riverside County health officials announced a milestone of giving over 500,000 coronavirus vaccine doses. This comes as the county prepares to receive its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as next week. 

Riverside County residents who received their first COVID-19 vaccine at county run sites have a new way to check on the status of their invitation for their second dose appointment. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more from the county’s weekly public health update.

Residents can now go online to check on the status of second dose invitation at rivcoph.org/COVID-19-2nd-Dose-Information.

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Riverside County announced Tuesday that COVID-19 case rates met the state’s threshold to allow for schools to restart in-person kindergarten through sixth grade education. Meanwhile in San Bernardino County, teachers can now sign up to receive the vaccine at county run sites.

In order to reopen, schools in Riverside County must have pre-approved plans. According to a release, currently four districts have approval including Corona-Norco, Palo Verde Valley, Desert Sands, and Murrieta Valley.

cdc.gov

A new poll out of U.C. Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI) found that anti-mask protestors in the Inland Empire do not represent the majority. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports that instead, greater than 4 in 5 voters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties support a public mask mandate. This comes as U.S. health officials say mask wearing may be needed into 2022.

Benjamin Purper / KVCR

Elementary schools in San Bernardino County have been cleared to reopen starting Monday, if they want to and have a reopening plan. 

The clearance comes after the county’s adjusted case rate numbers dipped to a certain level.

The number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, adjusted for the amount of people tested in the county, has been below 25 for five consecutive days.

Neighboring Riverside County hasn’t met that same threshold, but their case numbers are also improving.

President Biden has already undone much of the previous administration’s immigration policies, including through a proposal to provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. In a press call today, Representative Raul Ruiz of the Coachella Valley called on Congress and the Biden Administration to ensure legalization for immigrants is included in the next COVID-19 economic recovery package. 

Ruiz, who represents California's 36th District and chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, held a press call Tuesday with immigration advocates.

Family Service Administration/Submitted

The Family Service Association (F.S.A.), a Moreno Valley non-profit, received a $120,000 grant to address COVID-19 disparities in San Bernardino County from the Oakland-based Public Health Institute.

They will use the money to roll out an outreach plan in early March to target vulnerable groups like seniors, essential workers, people living in poverty, communities of color and immigrants around behavioral changes to prevent disease spread and encourage vaccine adoption.

delphi.cmu.edu / Carnegie Mellon University/Facebook

A new interactive map from Facebook’s Data for Good program shows the percentage of people in counties across the U.S. who would choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine based on the results of a survey conducted by the social media company and Carnegie Mellon University. 

According to the map, about 76% of people in Riverside County would choose to receive a COVID vaccine if it were offered to them today.

In San Bernardino County, that number is about 69%.

City of Redlands/FACEBOOK

Outdoor street dining in downtown Redlands is set to resume February 11. The city worked with local businesses to restart the program after the state stay-at-home order was lifted on January 25.

The popular State Street Promenade dining event closes portions of East State Street and Fifth Street to through-traffic allowing local restaurants to set up outdoor tables in the road adjacent to their properties. The event will take place weekly 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Wikimedia Commons

This Superbowl Sunday, Inland Empire public health officials are asking residents to consider virtual gatherings, and to take caution to avoid the further spread of COVID-19.

While the Inland Empire is beginning to recover from the December and January surge of infections linked to the holiday season, several local hospitals remain strained and available ICU beds are at zero percent capacity for the Southern California region.

Kevin Dooley / Flickr

The city of Riverside has approved a plan to help small businesses with their utility costs by allowing them to apply their deposits to their account balances. KVCR’s Benjamin Purper spoke with Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro about the program, which is designed to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19. More information on the program is available at riversideca.gov/SBDC.

Benjamin Purper / KVCR

An assisted living site in Redlands administered 145 coronavirus vaccines on Friday, as the state rolls out vaccine eligibility to people over 65. 

115 residents and 30 associates at Mission Commons in Redlands received the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine Friday.

Karla Jerez is the general manager of Mission Commons.

She says despite some of the apprehension in the general public about the vaccine, the residents at Mission Commons were generally excited to receive it.

Riverside County/TWITTER

A state run oxygen depot was set up Thursday in Riverside County to supply area hospitals and relieve high demand on oxygen suppliers. 

The depot, operating 24 hours a day, is made up of two large oxygen generators that can fill up tanks used by hospitals to supplement regional supply.

In a release, Riverside County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton said oxygen suppliers are having a difficult time meeting the high demands of area hospitals. He explained COVID patients need a lot of oxygen which has been taxing the entire healthcare system.

Despite a slower than anticipated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, San Bernardino County is doing better than the state average for administering the immunization so far.

“To date, we have approximately vaccinated, about 45 percent of our allocation," said Arrowhead Regional Medical Center CEO Andrew Goldfrach. "In comparison, the state is seeing about 30 percent.”

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center/TWITTER

San Bernardino County health officials told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday that area hospitals are preparing to enter "crisis care" mode.

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Hospital Director, Bill Gilbert, told the board this means staff will have to look at demand versus resources.

"Basically, the message to our staff, respectively, is do more with less," said Gilbert. "We expect that there will be another surge in the next few weeks, and we are seeing that already in our emergency rooms.”

County of Riverside

The combined case count of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Riverside and San Bernardino counties has passed 400,000. 

Riverside County reported more than 17,000 new infections on Monday, reflecting test results from the extended holiday weekend.

That brought the county’s cumulative case total to 198,236 cases as of Monday.

There have also been 2,096 confirmed deaths from the virus in Riverside County.

Meanwhile, San Bernardino County reported more than 18,000 new infections, bringing that county’s total to 203,309.

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